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Wesley J. Smith: ‘Futile care’ duty to die may be coming to a hospital near you
The Daily Caller ^ | 5/11/12 | Wesley J. Smith

Posted on 05/13/2012 2:31:30 PM PDT by wagglebee

When a Canadian man named Hassan Rasouli suffered complications after brain surgery, his doctors wanted to pull the plug. But his Muslim family said no. It was against Hassan’s values, and moreover, they believed he showed signs of improvement. In any event, they wanted him to be able to continue to fight for life.

But that didn’t end matters. The doctors claimed that continuing treatment was “futile” because he would never get better. Moreover, they announced they intended to stop all treatment except for comfort care — regardless of the family’s desires or their patient’s personal values — an example of what is known in bioethics as “Futile Care Theory” or “medical futility.”

The case ended up in court. Justifying their desired imposition on the family, the doctors testified in a written affidavit: “It is as certain as anything ever is in medicine that he will never recover any degree of consciousness,” Wrong. Hassan later woke up and became reactive to the point that he can now give a “thumbs up” when asked how he is doing.

Despite this, the doctors are still conducting tests to determine whether they remain committed to stopping his treatment. Further, they have asked the Canadian Supreme Court to grant physicians the general legal right to refuse wanted life-extending treatment. If they prevail, it will mean that extending life will cease to be considered medically “beneficial” — even when that is what the patient and/or family wants.

Some might snort derisively and think, “Well, that’s Canada with single-payer health care. That’s what happens in socialized systems.”

Not so fast. Futile Care Theory has been pushed quietly by bioethicists in this country for years. Indeed, many, if not most, hospitals have promulgated some form of internal futile care protocol. Not only that, but many states — most notably Texas — legally grant hospitals the statutory right to refuse wanted life-sustaining treatment.

This is how the Texas law, seen as a model by many futilitiarians, works: Under the Texas Health and Safety Code, if the physician disagrees with a patient’s decision to receive treatment, he or she can take it to the hospital bioethics committee. A hearing is convened at which all interested parties explain why they want or don’t want treatment to continue.

If the committee decides to refuse treatment, it is determinative. Even if the family finds another doctor willing to provide the treatment, it can’t be done in that hospital. At that point, the patient/family has a mere ten days to find another hospital willing to take the patient, after which, according to the statute, “the physician and health care facility are not obligated to provide life-sustaining treatment.”

In practical terms, that’s a death sentence. The economics of medicine have changed from the old fee-for-service days. Today, extended care in ICUs is usually a money loser for hospitals, meaning that families find it almost impossible to find a facility willing to accept the transfer of expensive patients whose care has been declared to be “futile.” There are even reported cases of desperate families looking out of state for a facility willing to provide treatment for a loved one about to be pushed out of the lifeboat by a Texas hospital.

If the committee decides to refuse treatment, it is determinative. Even if the family finds another doctor willing to provide the treatment, it can’t be done in that hospital. At that point, the patient/family has a mere ten days to find another hospital willing to take the patient, after which, according to the statute, “the physician and health care facility are not obligated to provide life-sustaining treatment.”

In practical terms, that’s a death sentence. The economics of medicine have changed from the old fee-for-service days. Today, extended care in ICUs is usually a money loser for hospitals, meaning that families find it almost impossible to find a facility willing to accept the transfer of expensive patients whose care has been declared to be “futile.” There are even reported cases of desperate families looking out of state for a facility willing to provide treatment for a loved one about to be pushed out of the lifeboat by a Texas hospital.

Please understand, I am not saying that it would never be right to withdraw wanted treatment. Any one of us can conjure a scenario in which imposing increasingly painful and extreme interventions could cross the line into abuse. But these disputes should not be adjudicated behind closed doors in star chamber-like proceedings run by bioethicists who do not share the values of patients and their families, and who work in institutions with a financial stake in the outcomes. Rather, they belong in a court of law, with the right to press access, cross examination, a public record and appeal.

Moreover, if doctors want a patient to die sooner rather than later, they should bear the strong burden of proof in order to prevail. After all, the point of Futile Care Theory is to impose a form of the death penalty. When in doubt, every benefit of doubt belongs to wanted life.

Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism and consults for the Patients Rights Council and the Center for Bioethics and Culture. 


TOPICS:
KEYWORDS: deathpanels; moralabsolutes; obamacare; prolife
Think of Futile Care Theory as ad hoc health care rationing. Once Obamacare is up and running, centralized boards will create cost-benefit bureaucratic boards that could systemize Futile Care Theory into mandatory refusals or outright health care rationing based on patients’ quality of life.

And it is pure evil.

1 posted on 05/13/2012 2:31:44 PM PDT by wagglebee
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To: cgk; Coleus; cpforlife.org; narses; Salvation; 8mmMauser
Pro-Life Ping
2 posted on 05/13/2012 2:32:40 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: BykrBayb; floriduh voter; Lesforlife; Sun
Ping
3 posted on 05/13/2012 2:33:55 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: 185JHP; 230FMJ; AKA Elena; APatientMan; Albion Wilde; Aleighanne; Alexander Rubin; ...
Moral Absolutes Ping!

Freepmail wagglebee to subscribe or unsubscribe from the moral absolutes ping list.

FreeRepublic moral absolutes keyword search
[ Add keyword moral absolutes to flag FR articles to this ping list ]


4 posted on 05/13/2012 2:35:42 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee

When your money runs out you are a dead duck.

Be sure to check out the death panels in Obamacare.


5 posted on 05/13/2012 2:41:30 PM PDT by Venturer
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To: wagglebee
Now, the real reason Sarah Palin was mocked for predicting “Death Panels”. No panel will be necessary.
6 posted on 05/13/2012 2:45:56 PM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: wagglebee

BUMP


7 posted on 05/13/2012 2:47:36 PM PDT by kitkat (Obama, ROPE and CHAINS.)
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To: wagglebee

BUMP


8 posted on 05/13/2012 2:47:45 PM PDT by kitkat (Obama, ROPE and CHAINS.)
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To: wagglebee

Duty to Die is evil, yes


9 posted on 05/13/2012 3:00:36 PM PDT by GeronL (The Right to Life came before the Right to Pursue Happiness)
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To: wagglebee

Socialists/Totalitarians are all about plunder and death. It’s how they roll...over all of us, especially the weak, old, infirm, disabled, etc., etc.

DEPOPULATE socialists from the body politic. Amazingly “we the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union...” can still VOTE THEM OUT.

This thinker had them figured out over 160 years ago...

“Above all, if you wish to be strong, begin by rooting out every particle of socialism that may have crept into your legislation. This will be no light task.” - Frederic Bastiat 1801-1850

Here is some proof of some of the damage they have done...

http://www.usdebtclock.org/

C’mon November!


10 posted on 05/13/2012 3:12:30 PM PDT by PGalt
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To: wagglebee; Sirius Lee; lilycicero; MaryLou1; glock rocks; JPG; Monkey Face; RIghtwardHo; ...
+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.


11 posted on 05/13/2012 3:18:23 PM PDT by narses
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To: wagglebee

If anyone is thinking of putting their aged parents in a nursing home these days, don’t do it. If you want them healthy, keep them home with you.


12 posted on 05/13/2012 3:18:29 PM PDT by blueplum
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To: wagglebee

“Once Obamacare is up and running, centralized boards will create cost-benefit bureaucratic boards....”

.
Did anyone notice that none of the congresscritters who passed this evil bill will be subjected to Bambicare?

That, by itself, should outrage the American voter.


13 posted on 05/13/2012 4:01:32 PM PDT by 353FMG
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To: wagglebee

The Democrats are PRO DEATH OF INNOCENTS REGARDLESS OF AGE, beginning with conception. They are PRO LIFE for MURDERS. Come to think of it, taking an innocent life is MURDER and all involved, including those politicians etc who aid and abet these deaths should ALL BE TRIED, for yup, MURDER. NAZIs were eventually brought to trial, I hope these people are eventually brought to trial and justice.


14 posted on 05/13/2012 5:05:02 PM PDT by Tuketu (The Dim Platform is splinters bound by crazy glue. We need a solvent)
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To: narses

My orthopeodic surgeon informed my that there is a clause in Obamacare that prohibits surgery (we were discussing knees) if the patient’s BMI (body mass index) is too high. IOW if the patient is too fat. This is part of the fine print that NOBODY in Congress read.


15 posted on 05/13/2012 5:33:14 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: wagglebee

These “Doctors” better realize that sooner or later they`ll kill off the wrong person, someone with a family member who`ll return the favor.


16 posted on 05/13/2012 5:51:29 PM PDT by nomad
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To: All
Here is something I wrote a while back:

I've posted this many times before but what if somebody is denied healthcare under Bammycare? People naturally have spouses, children, siblings, friends, parents, grandparents, etc. depending on the age of the one denied. I would hate to be a member of a death panel making such a decision to deny. I'd stay out of dark allies, look under my car before starting it, keep my eyes out for shadows, and jump at every noise I hear at night. Is that noise I hear at 2:30 AM the neighbor's cat or is it Grandpa Jones' grandson, which I denied care to his granddad, with a posse of his friends armed with baseball bats and a shotgun? How about blocking the road in front of me, an old lady in a 1967 Caddy. Did she break down or is she the wife of the man who I denied a hip replacement to, waiting for me where as I step out of my car to help, the last thing I hear is a .45 going off just before St. Peter appears. It's 10 PM, my kid is late in coming home and the phone rings. How about this, what if I denied care to a Tony Soprano?

I know under the insurance companies, there are cases of denial but in a lot of cases, you can get the doctor and hospital to get them to reverse their decision or just go ahead and let the family pay for it and/or go on a charity case. Not so with the government, if you are denied, there is very little redress at all. Ayn Rand put in in a long monologue where it boils down to this, "the more laws you create, the more criminals you make" and when you eliminate the process and route where one can make a challenge to make things right legally, that leaves only one other way, revenge and/or at least forced coercion via illegal means. This is a pandora's box to be sure, people will do anything for their loved ones and for survival.

I remember Quark's quote from DS9 (Star Trek) about us humans, "Let me tell you something about humans, nephew. They're a wonderful, friendly people as long as their bellies are full and their holosuites are working. But take away their creature comforts, deprive them of food, sleep, sonic showers, put their lives in jeopardy over an extended period of time and those same friendly, intelligent, wonderful people will become as nasty and as violent as the most blood-thirsty Klingon."

I don't feel comfortable in visioning this scenario, but if we keep going on the present track, it will happen.

17 posted on 05/13/2012 5:56:43 PM PDT by Nowhere Man (General James Mattoon Scott, where are you when we need you? We need a regime change.)
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To: nomad

Read what I wrote below.


18 posted on 05/13/2012 5:58:15 PM PDT by Nowhere Man (General James Mattoon Scott, where are you when we need you? We need a regime change.)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

If that BMI deal is true, there will be a lot of Baraqqi supporters shut out of getting ops.


19 posted on 05/13/2012 6:03:01 PM PDT by nascarnation
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To: wagglebee
“Ethics is also a common term to refer to or define e.g. code of conduct, honourable behaviours, virtues, just actions”

So called Medical Ethicists have deemed it acceptable to consider killing a new born baby an abortion and Bioethicists think Futile Care doctrine is acceptable. These clowns need to review the definition of ethics. This reeks of another policy from Ezekiel Emanuel.

20 posted on 05/13/2012 7:40:24 PM PDT by antidemoncrat
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To: wagglebee

Do we need to return to holistic medicine at home before we hit the hospital? For now, safe at home is better than surrender.


21 posted on 05/14/2012 10:30:42 AM PDT by floriduh voter (I have no comment.)
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To: All
Pinged from Terri Dailies


22 posted on 05/20/2012 12:12:24 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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